Creative Writing, Flash Fiction

A Dish Best Served Canned

Genre: Crime Caper

Location: Servant’s Quarters

Object: Canned Cat Food

Time Limit: 48 hours

—-

“I’m not sure we should be doing this,” Liza said.

“Of course, we should,” David was rummaging through a bag and barely looked up. “The old broad’s got more money than she knows what to do with and this guy is offering us some real change for the thing.”

“But, she’s pretty attached to it.”

“So? I was pretty attached to my job. Besides, the thing is hideous. We’re doing her a favor.”

She sighed. “I guess, but … “

“Look, she fired me for no reason. She’s old and ornery and she deserves this.

It’ll be easy, I promise.” He reached forward, offering what he had pulled out of the bag. “You’ll need this.”

The metal was cool in her hand.

 

Upstairs, Mrs. Black was already in bed.

“I’m sorry about your friend,” she said as Liza drew the curtains and straightened up around the bedroom. Liza didn’t respond. The woman had treated Liza like a daughter since she’d shown up without a family, looking for work five years ago. But David had become her family over the last few years and it was going to take more than an apology for Liza to forgive her for letting him go. David was right. She did deserve what they were about to do.

 

David closed her fingers around the metal.

“You know what to do, right?”

“I’ll wait until she’s asleep…”

David nodded.

“And then I take this back into the bedroom.”

He nodded again, eagerly.

“From there,” he said, “It’ll be simple.”

“Simple,” she repeated, her voice barely a whisper.

“Liza,” David’s voice was stern. “She doesn’t care about you. You’re just an employee. She can act as sweet as she wants, but that’s how she thinks about you.”

 

“Liza, turn around please.” Liza stopped her straightening and turned to face the woman in the bed. White and pink pillows surrounded her and with her shock of white curls framing her face she could have been floating on a cloud. Liza had laid in the bed once, when Mrs. Black was out of town, it had felt like a cloud.

“Dear, I know you and Mr. Ash were close…” Liza was surprised she knew his last name. “But you’re better off putting some distance there, trust me.”

Liza turned her head to avoid eye contact and saw it. Next to her on the bed. She looked away. It really was hideous.

 

“She’ll do to you what she did to me,” David pressed. “Trust me. It’s only a matter of time.”

Liza looked down. It was hard to imagine Mrs. Black suddenly letting her go, she didn’t really have anyone else in that big house with her. Except for Frances.

“Hey,” David took her chin between his thumb and forefinger. “We do this, and we can get a train ticket out of here. We can be a family.”

She nodded.

“Oh,” he said, reaching back into the bag. “Don’t forget this.” He pulled out a can opener.

 

“You know I think of you as family, dear. Young love can be powerful, but there are things you don’t know about your young man.”

Liza looked down to the floor as the thing beside Mrs. Black stirred and shifted. The two objects in her dress pockets weighed heavy against her.

“Mr. Ash was stealing from me.”

Liza’s head jerked up.

“I know it’s a shock, but it’s true.” She reached over and pulled the thing closer, as though protecting it. Liza’s hand hovered over her pockets. “The mechanic found him in the garage. Apparently, he was taking parts from my dear-departed-Richard’s rare cars and selling them.”

“Car parts?” Eliza whispered.

 

“She owes us, Liza. We can barely afford to support ourselves, we live like servants,” he motioned around them, “And now firing me for no reason?” He scoffed. “Do you know how much she probably paid for that thing? It’s ridiculous. And it’s so gaddam ugly. Once it’s gone, she can spring for a cat with hair.”

 

The hairless cat stretched beside Mrs. Black as she nodded. “Apparently, it’s been going on for quite some time. He probably made a fortune. The money isn’t important to me, of course, but those cars meant the world to Richard and I was going to donate them to his favorite charity so they could auction them off. But now…” she shook her head and looked down at Frances, it’s great bug eyes gazing lovingly up at her. “We just had to dismiss him…right, Frances?”

She really loved that damn cat. Liza wondered if David even had a buyer lined up or if he only wanted revenge.

“Thank you for telling me,” Liza said approaching the bed. She touched the woman’s hand, “Good night, Mrs. Black.” She reached over and patted the top of Frances’s head. The skin was leathery and Liza had to hold back a shiver. “Good night, Frances.”

“Good night, dear.”

 

Liza stood outside Mrs. Black’s door, waiting for the gentle sounds of her snoring. When she heard them, she took the can opener from one pocket and the can of cat food from the other and put them in the box meant for Frances. She quietly entered the bedroom. Tiptoeing to the dresser, she lifted the lid of Mrs. Black’s jewelry box and pulled out a glittery glob of jewels. To an amateur eye, to someone looking to make a quick buck stealing from an old woman, they would look expensive, but Liza knew they were only trinkets. The box full, she went to the door. She looked back at the bed and saw Frances glaring at her as though the cat knew the fate she had just escaped. Liza gave her a quick wink before slipping out the door. Fucking ugly cat.

After she’d slipped downstairs and deposited the box in David’s room, she went back upstairs. In the parlor, Liza phoned the police. “Yes, I’d like to report a crime at the Black Estate…theft and attempted cat-napping.”

 

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